Catch up TV review: Catastrophe S4 Finale, Famous and Fighting, Skint Britain, The Death of Aimee Spencer
James R | On 17, Feb 2019
Famous and Fighting Crime (All 4)
If you’re tired of seeing celebrities in a faux-jungle eating insects, this new Channel 4 series is for you, managing to combine both the fish-out-of-water appeal of reality celeb series with a close-up portrait of just how under pressure the UK’s police force is. With thousands of volunteer officers shoring up numbers in the face of police cuts, we see what exactly they have to face on a day-to-day basis, as Marcus Brigstocke, Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing, Gogglebox viewer Sandi Bogle and presenter Katie Piper recruited for shifts on the street. Training them is an ordeal in itself, while their eventual patrols leave some dazed by the thought that they’re out there without a menagerie shielding them from the perils of the real world, but this works less because we’re seeing famous people out of the comfort zone, and more because we’re seeing what it’s like to be a volunteer officer in modern Britain. The presence of TV stars reminds us that it’s a thankless task, but that someone’s gotta do it.
Skint Britain: Friends without Benefits (All 4)
Channel 4 surpasses itself with this heart-wrenching reminder of what the government has done to the poor in UK society. Once home to such shows as Benefits Street, this programme does away with the scandalising of those on welfare and instead focuses on the genuine scandal that is the Conservative Party’s Universal Credit scheme, which bundles benefits into one lump sum – but refuses to pay out for several weeks, leaving many struggling to make ends meet at all, let alone successfully claim what they’re entitled to in the future. One finds work with a local shopkeeper willing to extend a lifeline, another finds hope in the dream of a drumming career, while the first episode peaks with a scene of one guy in a telephone box trying to get an emergency payment to last the weekend. Shot with a grim dose of cinematic tension, it’s a gut-punching reminder of how some have to life in Hartlepool, where UC has been rolled out as part of a trial run. All the while, another goes hunting with his dog to find food in the woods – a worrying glimpse of the future for some.
The Death of Aimee Spencer (ITV Hub)
True crime can be a strange genre, as it asks us to invest our emotions and attention in a case, ready to unearth an answer or solution. But what if there isn’t one? The Death of Aimee Spencer follows the investigation into the tragic death of the Geordie Shore extra, who was found fatally injured in Brighton, after apparently falling from a window. Inside, the police find Daniel Lewis, who has taken class A drugs and is unable to process what’s happening. With body cams showing us the arrival of the police on the scene, and interview footage with Aimee’s family, as the case continues, the documentary highlights the heartbreak of the family but never seems to get to the bottom of what really happened, leaving us, like them, questioning the verdict ultimately given by the court earlier this year. Katie Piper presents with restraint and respect, but with an ending that doesn’t satisfy expectations of the genre, you wonder why ITV chose the case as the subject for a programme, as it ends up feeling more intrusive that most.
Catastrophe: Season 4 Finale (All 4)
More TV shows should have the courage and the heart to end like this. So long, Catastrophe. You’ll be sorely, sorely missed.